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Lost & found: Uncovering American antiques & fine art in Britain
Lost & Found: Discovered in Scotland, the only known example of a rare American Coasting Bank sold for $266,500 at Freeman’s on November 2013.

PHILADELPHIA, PA.- Freeman’s, America’s oldest auction house, located in Philadelphia will be sending several specialists to the United Kingdom in search of American-made fine and decorative arts, silver, porcelain, furniture, and more. The eight day tour, from July 31 to August 7, will include stops in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Shropshire, and London, with special events planned at Weston Park and Kensington Palace.

From William Penn, who founded the Pennsylvania colony in America only to return home to England later, to nouveau riche American heiresses marrying British nobility for titles in the early 1900s, Yankees and Brits have been traveling “across the pond” for centuries. As a result, many American-made furniture, wares, and paintings have found their way to the United Kingdom—and back to the United States.

“Freeman’s has successfully sold antiques that have been discovered abroad through our sister auction house Lyon & Turnbull. Both firms know that American property achieves better results in the US where demand is greater. Based on Lyon & Turnbull’s findings and the long the history between the US and UK, Freeman’s is confident there are high-quality American works of art, furniture, and more in Britain waiting to be found that will command excellent prices at auction in America,” said Lynda Cain, Head of American Furniture, Silver, Folk & Decorative Arts.

Freeman’s recently sold a Captain Abraham Perry French & Indian War engraved powder horn uncovered in Britain for $25,000, surpassing its estimate of $8,000, and in November 2013, the firm auctioned off the only known example of a mechanical toy bank, known as the “Coasting Bank,” which came to Freeman’s by way of Lyon & Turnbull. The bank, estimated at $30,000, brought $266,500 at auction. Another United Kingdom discovery sold at Freeman’s was a silver basin, which Martha Washington gifted to her niece. It descended through the family for seven generations— eventually making its way to England via a marriage.

Through a host of events, Freeman’s fine and decorative art specialists will be lecturing on Americana, providing complimentary valuations, and accepting entries for their upcoming autumn auctions. David Walker, Head of Fine Collections and English & Continental Furniture, Silver & Decorative Arts will also be traveling with the American fine & decorative arts specialists to provide definitive answers to those wondering: Is it American or British?

“Throughout the 18th century and into the 19th century, English furniture styles and construction methods influenced American craftsman. This occurred through the dissemination of English furniture design books, the arrival of British immigrant furniture makers into America, and the constant trade that took place between America and Britain in the Colonial era and beyond. American furniture, at first glance, can look remarkably similar to English and Irish examples, and frequently, antique pieces once considered English for decades are later identified as American and vice versa,” said David Walker, Head of Fine Collections and English & Continental Furniture, Silver & Decorative Arts.

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